- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Commuters will likely face treacherous road conditions this morning as subfreezing temperatures threaten to turn snow and rain into slick coats of ice on streets across the region.

The first part of the storm’s one-two punch arrived gently yesterday morning from the Midwest as light rain turned intermittently to snow and sleet as temperatures fluctuated around the freezing point. The second storm is coming from the south and will be fueled by warm, moist air that will collide with the colder temperature to create the freezing rain and sleet.

“The bulk of the storm is moving through the area and will cause significant icing,” said Brian Lasorsa, a spokesman for the National Weather Service, which has issued a winter storm warning through this morning.

Mr. Lasorsa predicted about a half-inch of ice north and west of the District and about a quarter-inch south and east of the city.

Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, a Democrat, yesterday declared a statewide emergency in advance of the thick ice expected in parts of the state, including Charlottesville and Harrisonburg.

Forecasters are predicting a nor’easter that could bring as much as a foot of snow to New England.

Illinois, Ohio and other Midwestern states had blizzardlike conditions, with high winds, large snow accumulations and accidents. The storm, which is affecting the weather in 30 states, claimed at least two lives in Nebraska in accidents on Interstate 80.

Forecasters are calling for up to another 20 inches of snow in snow-stricken upstate New York, parts of which already are buried under a record-breaking blanket of 10 feet or more.

Most Washington-area schools will not make a decision about closings until early this morning, though some did announce decisions last night.

The roads yesterday were a slushy mess of snow and rain that caused backups but no major accidents across the region.

Still, the Montgomery County fire department called in extra workers last night in anticipation of weather-related accidents, spokesman Pete Piringer said.

The rush-hour delays yesterday afternoon started early, in part because the federal government sent workers home at 2 p.m., which jammed Capitol Hill, eastbound New York Avenue and other spots around the region, including Interstate 495 and Route 28 in Virginia.

Metro officials reported no delays and said they are keeping trains running for the morning commute by clearing tracks and running de-icer trains throughout the night.

However, bus passengers should be prepared for possible detours and delays because of changing road conditions, agency officials said.

MARC commuter rail officials expected minor weather-related delays this morning. VRE commuter train officials said Virginia rail commuters should expect no delays.

Area airports are expecting weather-related delays and cancellations.

“Travelers will see cancellations of flights to the Midwest and Northeast,” said Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority spokeswoman Tara Hamilton. “We urge people to check with airlines as flights will likely be canceled in the morning.”

United Airlines canceled flights out of Ronald Reagan Washington National and Washington Dulles International airports yesterday and this morning.

Utility officials are preparing for ice that could down power lines and snap tree limbs that could topple power lines and knock out traffic signals this morning.

“A quarter inch of ice will bring down branches,” said Pepco spokeswoman Mary-Beth Hutchinson. “We have the most heavily treed electrical system in the U.S., so ice is a really bad challenge,” Miss Hutchinson said.

Pepco, which covers the District, Montgomery County and most of Prince George’s County, assigned crews to round-the-clock 12-hour shifts and brought in additional contract crews.

Dominion Power, which supplies power to most of Virginia, dispatched crews to the northern and western parts of the state, where the most damage was expected, and had additional crews on standby, said spokeswoman Daisy Pridgen.

Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., which covers most of central Maryland, was taking similar measures.

“We drill for these type of things on a regular basis, so our people are certainly prepared to deal with outages as they occur,” said BGE spokeswoman Linda Foy.

Still, officials are not expecting problems like those created by an ice storm in January 1999 that knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of residents in the region.

Pepco had no weather-related outages last night.

Dominion Power also reported no outages last night but deployed utility crews in Northern Virginia to deal with expected power outages this morning, a company spokeswoman said.

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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